Archive for the ‘Beauty’ Category

Mary Etta’s Purse

Monday, May 16th, 2016

When my grandfather died, we cleaned out his house, and there was just. so. much. stuff. Stuff that felt important and that I knew I should save, and I couldn’t make a decision about at the time. I put it away in boxes, and they ended up in the basement.

The basement flooded.

Much to Todd’s chagrin, none of my boxes of genealogies, family papers, history books, and old photos were damaged. However, the whole basement had to be emptied to do the renovations required to put in new floors and paint, so all of the accumulated stuff is kind of being moved into safekeeping until the renovations are complete. (By “safekeeping” I mean mountains of boxes in our bedroom, foyer, and dining room.)

While we were moving them, Tiller immediately caught sight of one item on top of an open box of photos that belonged to my Grandma.

My great-grandmother’s purse.

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I kept it because it’s a classic, beautiful vintage purse. Score. But I had forgotten until we opened it up that I had also kept it because it was a mini-time capsule of my great grandmother’s last years. I think that when she died, her daughters probably just took her purse home, and they couldn’t bare to throw any of it out. (Must be genetic.)

Here are my Grandma Palmer (Evelyn) and her sister, Lessie, at the funeral home. I know it’s morbid and sad, but I don’t care; I like this photo.

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She was born Mary Etta Richardson (her mother was Matilda Denmark, which is partially the origin of Till’s name, but mostly we just liked the name), in Liberty County, GA in 1888. She died December 7, 1959. (Pearl Harbor day, and my sister’s birthday, too.) She married my great-grandfather, Horace Ray Butler (Rollie dodged a bullet there) and they had five children. Two of them died as babies, and the stories of their deaths are heartbreaking to hear as a mother.They were older than the three who lived and died before the others were born. The three who lived were: Lessie, my grandmother Evelyn Jean, and Clayton. (I believe he was actually William Clayton.)

 

Both of the babies are both buried at Thomas Hill Cemetery on Fort Stewart. Here is a photo of Marie’s grave and one of R.C.’s. This gets mighty confusing, because my grandmother would tell me about her mother telling her about losing the babies, and the names above are misleading. According to my grandma, Marie was not pronounced with the common pronunciation. It was “MA-ree,” rather than “Ma-REE.” And there is no french accent to it, just “Little Ma.Ree.” And when my grandmother told me about the babies dying, the boy was “Little R.C.” Not “R.O.” which is what the gravestone looks like, but I am sure that it was R.C. and i think maybe the stone was not well-engraved, because I am sure she knew what her own mother called her dead baby brother. And we never heard a word about “Meldrum.” That makes Little R.C. quite a mystery, as he seems to be named “Meldrum R. C. Butler.” Genealogy nerd me would really like to know what the R. and C. stand for – I think R. might be for “Richardson.” Who knows.

Anyways, a ton of my other Butler, Richardson, Denmark, Shuman, and other families are also buried in cemeteries at Fort Stewart. (I hope to get down there for a cemetery visit, but you have to make an appointment, i think due to the Army not wanting you to get blown up driving around the base. Heck, I could do a whole post just about the people buried on Fort Stewart.)

Whoa. That was one of my more offensive genealogy tangents. Sorry about that. So, here’s the juicy part . . .

I guess the statute of limitations is probably up now on these folks, so I can say that we have not figured out the actual truth, but it is rumored that Horace also had a relationship with another woman (possibly a Sarah or Maude, who was perhaps a Shuman) and fathered a son, but I have never been able to figure out much more about it. People just alluded to it, but never actually gave us any real dirt. (If you happen to stumble across this post and know anything about this other relationship, marriage, or illegitimate child or his descendants, we would very much like to hear from you. I know that’s a long shot.)

Horace and Mary Etta lived in Bryan County, GA, on (as I understand it) the original land grant that the Butlers received in Georgia. My grandmother was born there, near Clyde. When Fort Stewart was created, everyone in their area lost their farms. They moved to Savannah, where both died and are buried.

So, back to the purse. The satin lining is sooo silky.

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Tills and I started laying the things in the purse out on the table. Here are the things we found in my great grandmother’s purse:

This really cracked and cool looking mirror. If Mary Etta was anything like my Grandma Palmer, she would not go out of the house without lipstick.

 

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One box of tithing envelopes. I think at the end, she maybe lived with my Aunt Lessie in Garden City, outside of Savannah, because I know she didn’t always attend church out there.

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Here is one of the cards inside. I love that they are numbered and have the date on them, so that you don’t miss one single Sunday of tithing.

 

 

 

Here is her wallet:

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It contained a lot of medical receipts and newspaper clippings of bible verses and obituaries.
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I thought this one was very interesting; A tuberculosis report, from 13 years prior to her death. Negative. I’m curious if there is some reason she would have kept this in her wallet all those years. At the time of the test, she still lived on Stevenson Ave. Daddy would have been about five at that time, and also lived there.

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Another bible verse. I can’t figure out why it’s printed so oddly. Are they like bible verse flash cards? Because even upside down, I can still figure out it’s from Proverbs. . . and I missed a lot of Sunday School.

 

She had the card for the Superintendent of Sunday School. Love the old phone numbers. No (912) back then.

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One Walgreen’s prescription. I didn’t realize Walgreen’s had been around that long.

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Okay, nerd that I am, I looked up history of Walgreen’s. No wonder they were around so long; They started in Chicago and were allowed to sell “medicinal” whiskey during Prohibition. 

Also of interest: Mary Etta’s doctor was a female. Thinking that wasn’t super common back then, but made me smile.

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Quick Google search on Anne Hopkins came up with nothing, but I bet she might have been pretty interesting. And anyone know what that cream is for?

 

Here’s an obituary for some British dude, William Wright. A boyfriend, perhaps? None of the names look familiar.

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The next one is sweet: A memorial clipping, of some sort, for Mary’s husband, Horace. He died when Dad was around five. IMG_8733 IMG_8735

 

One flashy red change purse.

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A whole bunch of hair doodads.

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I particularly like the packaging for the bobby pins, which did not photograph well, but reads, ‘Gayla 10 cents.’

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Here’s a brooch, of jewels in a crown. A few of the jewels are missing.

I really like this old letter opener. Does anyone actually still use these?

And here is my absolute favorite item in the purse. One, unopened, perfectly preserved stick of Beech-Nut gum. 
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One pair of vintage bifocals.

I really love that they just folded up her glasses and stuck them in the purse. There is something so sweet and personal about holding someone’s glasses for them. It almost feels like an honor. Someone really trusts you if they hand you their glasses for safekeeping. And there is something heartbreaking about folding up someone’s glasses for the last time and putting them away.

Here I am wearing them. Rollie and Tills both had to try them on and we all did our best schoolmarm impersonations. (Ignore my hair frizz. I just ran.) See any resemblance to the photo of Mary Etta below?

Mary Etta Richardson Butler. October 1888-December 1959. Buried at Hillcrest Cemetery, Savannah, GA. (I guess this photo was probably taken at the Stevenson Ave. house. The house is long gone, I think.)

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I guess maybe I will start digging through these boxes as I put them back in the basement after the renovation. I am guessing there might be some related posts in the next few months. History nerds unite. Everyone else just stop reading for a while.

This Week in Beloved Pet Deaths: The Dog Who Knew All My Secrets

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

I wrote about putting my cat, Scully, down on Monday. And then today, I realized that my beloved dog, Quint, the one that I mentioned not even being able to write about yet, had died five years ago today. Seems like it’s time to start processing that loss. So, here’s a little bit of what he was like, my buddy, my very best friend ever.

He was a lover of the lake and babies.

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A kid kisser.

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Kids get a lot food on them, though. (Yes, I think that’s Tiller’s hair when she gave herself the Bowie haircut.)

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He loved riding on the boat.

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And curling up next to someone on the couch.

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Or on the floor when they were sick and watching cartoons.

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He let the kids dress him up and play with him, with no complaints.

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And boy did he love going with us to the beach.

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It seemed like he always wanted to be where the pack was, following me or the kids around.

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He knew where the kids were is where I was.

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And he loved, loved, loved going for rides with me in the car. He was totally my co-pilot.

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And my foot warmer.

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And my best friend.

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The one to whom I whispered all my secrets, even the ones I was scared to say out loud, and who loved me anyway, and never told a soul.

Dead, Towel-Wrapped Cat, With a Daisy on Top

Monday, May 9th, 2016
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We had to say goodbye to Scully today. I’m not a cat person, but she was all my sister and I could have in our little apartment back in 1998. I had her before I had Todd, or a house, or kids. She outlived a second cat and a dog. She was a sweet girl, and her gray and white markings made Lisa and I think it looked like she was wearing a beret cocked over one eye. When she was younger, she could be bad. When Todd and I were dating, I brought him a snow globe from Alaska. He set it on an end table, and Scully walked over and swept it off the table and it shattered. Numerous houseguests and my very own mother were on the receiving end of a middle-of-the-night glass of water dumped on their head, courtesy of the Sculls. In her old age, she would walk around aimlessly, and meow at us until we would shake up the food in her bowl. I guess in her senile state, she thought it was empty. These are small complaints. She was a good cat.
Last photo of me and my girl. I'm going to miss her climbing up in my lap while I work, and sneezing on my keyboard.

Last photo of me and my girl. I’m going to miss her climbing up in my lap while I work, and sneezing on my keyboard.

 
In the end, she started going downhill pretty quickly, but she was never in pain, and I think we timed things right. It wasn’t the horrific emergency I experienced with Quint. (Total PTSD after that experience, and you will notice I have still not ever written in detail about it – it breaks my heart to think about him or look at photos of him.) I got to make the decision on my own time, and I held her while she quietly went to sleep in my arms with her head on my chest. We should all be so lucky. They wrapped her body up in a towel and laid a daisy on top and handed her to me, along with a sweet clay imprint of her paw. I was surprised I cried. I thought I was ready to say goodbye. I saw my neighbor, Paula, in the waiting room on the way out, and I could barely even speak. I was just a crying crazy woman, carrying around a dead cat in a towel with a daisy on top. 
Afterwards was a little weird. I got home and carried in a dead cat wrapped in a towel, and then realized I couldn’t bury her until the kids got home. So, then I couldn’t figure out where to put her down, because our house is so packed full of the stuff that used to be in our basement until the toilet backed up and we had to tear everything out. I decided against the bedroom because ew, dead cat in my bed. Decided against the kitchen counter or the kitchen table because ew, dead cat where I prepare and eat food. Didn’t want to leave her on the floor because Brody was WAY interested in dead cat smell. It would be my luck he would eat her.
Aside: This whole part reminded me of my grandma Palmer’s chihuahua, Princess, dying while they were in Savannah. Grandma just put her on ice in an Igloo cooler until they could get back home to bury her. What kind of crazy person drives around all weekend in a pickup truck with a dead chihuahua in a cooler?) In the end, I set her on bench by the kitchen table, with the daisy on top, until the kids came home. When Todd came in, I yelled, “Watch out, dead cat!” (He knew she was gone already; I’m not heartless.)

 

When Tiller got home, I went out to meet her and bring her inside and break the news gently, but old Eagle Eye Johnson saw the cat carrier in the carport in two seconds flat.
“What’s that?” said Tiller.
“Cat carrier.”
“What’s it for?”
“I had to take Scully to the vet to put her to sleep. She got really sick this morning.”
“Aww.”
“You wanna go inside? I brought her home and we will bury her when R. gets home.”
“Okay.”
“What’s that?” she said, pointing to the towel-wrapped cat on the bench in our kitchen.
“That’s Scully wrapped in a towel. You can see her before we bury her if you want, but you know her soul went to Heaven. You don’t have to look at it. It’s just a body.”
“Okay.”
“You want a snack?”
“Okay.”
A few seconds later, she said quietly, “This isn’t as sad as Quint.”
“No, baby, I don’t think it is. She was old. She lived a good life. She died peacefully.”
So, Tiller ate a snack, but not in the kitchen with the dead cat, and then we realized that if we were not going to wake up with a dead cat in the kitchen tomorrow, we needed to dig a hole and throw a cat funeral before 5 pm, because after that, we have karate and swim practice. I started digging a hole, and when R. came home, Todd told him and he came out and he was much quieter about it than Tiller was. I texted my commune sister wife, and invited her girls up to attend, because they loved Scully too.
Todd came out to help me dig the hole deep enough. (I am now interested in how people buried their dead in all this red clay. It wore me out digging a hole for a 6 pound cat.) We went inside to get the kids, and R. wanted to carry her body out. Out of all of it, watching my boy delicately carrying our sweet dead cat across the yard, her body wrapped in a towel with a daisy on top, got to me the most. Todd held her while the kids and the twins all went around the yard and picked flowers (yellow iris, red roses, and orange/yellow tickseed – I picked my favorite, hydrangeas). Then we asked if they wanted to see her one last time, so we unwrapped the towel and everyone looked at her, and talked about how it looked kind of like she was sleeping, but different, and she was still soft, but not warm.
Again, I said, “It’s just a body. Her soul is in heaven.” We wrapped her back up; Todd laid her in the hole. I picked up a handful of dirt and threw it in. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” I said. “You can put some in, too,” I told the kids. Tiller said, “Do we have to say that?” “No, sweetie, you don’t have to say anything at all if you don’t want to. Or you can say whatever you want about her.” Each of them took a handful of dirt in turn, and tossed it in. No one said anything. “Rest in peace, Scully,” I said. “I loved you. You were a good cat.”

 

Todd shoveled the dirt over her and tamped it down, but just a little.  Then we each took turns laying our flowers on top of Scully’s grave, and then I held Rollie, then Tiller. And then sweet Leah said, “Can we have hugs, too?” I teared up, and I hugged Leah and Syd both. And then we all went inside or back home.

 

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Special Agent Dana Katherine Scully 1998 (?) – May 9, 2016. That’s Eddie Rabbit, watching over Scully from behind the azalea.

 

In the end, Scully lived 18 (I think) healthy, comfortable, well-loved years. She spent much of them sitting inside boxes and in sunlight streaming through windows. She left this world in the arms of a loved one as the breath peacefully left her body.

 

Rest in peace, Sweet Girl.

Hope Springs Eternal: A Prayer

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

I’m having one of those evenings where I feel very lucky, but yet I can’t stop the tears rolling down my face. I can feel lucky and sad at the same time, apparently. My family is happy and healthy. I have my parents and my sister, and my husband and children, and they are all fine.

Still, I find myself looking up at the stars and saying a prayer for an old friend, and for a family member of a friend, and for a few other people I know who are hurting. I pray for our country, because all this hate and yelling and violence is wounding my soul, and I know I am not alone. I pray for all of those people who can’t quite wrap their heads around how seemingly good people can support something so toxic. I pray for the ones that love someone who has changed into someone they don’t know anymore.

Yes, Annelle, I pray. 

No, I don’t go to church. I don’t consider myself a Christian, much to my parents’ disappointment. I do, however, believe in The Universe, and that there are forces of good and evil, and that my prayers go somewhere, and are heard somewhere, even if the impact they make is infinitesimal. I believe that there is something so very Holy in Spring, and the hydrangea, daffodils, azaleas, roses, and daylilies that pop up in my garden today. They are my old friends.

The come back every year, even when the man who taught me to love them is gone. They come back, even though the people I love don’t always come back.

Hope springs eternal.

Or something like that.

 

A Dream So Vivid

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

I kneel in the dormer window of my childhood bedroom, but I’m an adult wearing a white, flowing nightgown. I am frantic, trying to shove the plastic window shade into the corners of the window panes to block out the streetlight streaming in around the edges of the shade. The edges won’t stick or wedge in, and the light is a shining pool across my face, body, and carpet. I am not sure if I am trying to block out the light from shining on me, or keep people from looking inside.

Suddenly, I’m downstairs in that same childhood house, dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and my black hoodie. Except the downstairs is no living area, but a black-walled, red-lit rock venue, with a stage and booths, and high black, industrial ceilings, almost warehouse-like. I am sitting across from an aging musician, black-clad himself. He is handsome but no longer young, a bit worn about the edges like a well-loved, subversive book. Looking more closely at him, the lines and years are more apparent. He works there. We discuss the sound for an event, raising our voices over the song playing out of the speaker above us.

We walk around the room looking up at the ceiling and he shows me the locations of speakers and wire. He stops under a gaping hole with jagged edges in the ceiling above us, points it out to me. “We call it the Dungeon,” he says with a wry smile. It appears as if a large object has ripped through the ceiling above. Through the hole, I can still see my bedroom bathed in the light of the streetlight. I wonder what caused the hole; What could have fallen through and created a hole so wide?

Something changes suddenly, in the way that change sometimes cracks time wide open, and I have to perform onstage. The stage, though, is across the room in the opposite corner, and I realize that whatever came through the ceiling created a massive crater in the concrete floor of the room and the hole is full of bright blue water, aquarium-like and brightly lit. I stand at the edge, and notice dark shapes moving smoothly through the water.

“Sharks,” I think to myself.

There are probably three of them, maybe four. As they cut through the water, one and then another jump out of the water in an arc, then make a smooth dive back under, continuing to circle the pool. I realize I have to make my way past the shark pool, and on to the stage at the other side of the pool. My breathing picks up. I look around for ways to get around the pool. There is no overhang between the walls and the edge of the pool, nothing to tightrope walk across. The man tells me we have to go on. We? I look to my right. Ty Segall is standing next to me. “I know how to get there. You  have to go through the sharks,” he says. He is shorter than I realized.

The panic is rising in me, but he says, “dive” and plunges in, a clean California surfer’s dive, and I feel sick, but dive in after him, my head feeling like it will explode with the pressure. I do not feel like I am cutting through the water like a swift, smooth shark. One of the sharks bumps me as I swim frantically, my arms feeling no propelling traction or friction, my clothes weighing me down. I am tiring and running out of breath. I see a shark coming out of a halo of bright light, straight towards me, as my hand touches the far wall, which is only the black-painted wooden edge of the stage. I haul my torso up over the lip of the edge, and kick my legs like a child learning to swim, trying to push my hips and legs up and over. I get a leg up and then just as I see a shark coming at me, pull the last of my leg and foot out of the way. The shark strikes the wall and I feel nothing, but imagine a thud. I roll over and lay on my back, sucking in air, then hear someone yell, “Watch out.” I see the shark jumping out of the water at my face, it’s teeth all red and white. It’s dead eyes must be fixed on me, but they show no recognition or light.

I wake up terrified, lying in cold sweat, the dream as vivid as a movie, so strange a dream that it awakened me so violently that I thought it must mean something.

It must mean something.

Check Ignition & May God’s Love Be With You

Monday, January 11th, 2016

I just posted this three days ago on my Instagram for Bowie’s birthday.

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David Bowie, by Panhandle Slim

I’ve written about or referenced Bowie a number of times here on the blog. I wrote this about the song containing the lyrics above. (And then Todd had Panhandle Slim make this for me. Other Panhandle Slim images here – Have fun in the Rabbit Hole.) He surprised me with it on Christmas a few years ago and I cried.) There was that one time time I got drunk and made a roomful of people I don’t know very well listen to the the song twice at 4 am, because I love it so much. That one time I went down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos of Arcade Fire doing covers with various people, including David Bowie.

I loved him.

I crossposted a few of these words on Facebook when I first found out Bowie died this morning, but I think of my blog as a journal of sorts. When I read journals, I love it when I come across people’s thoughts on historical figures, politics of their time, or cultural phenomena. If someone reads my words one day a hundred years from now, I want them to know I thought David Bowie was groundbreaking and legendary and he often blew my mind.

Words won’t do justice to David Bowie’s greatness. He was a radical, an original, a true iconoclast.

Addendum: It is not recommended Bowie fans listen to “Space Oddity” this morning. They just played it on Kexp.org, and it made me sob. Beautiful and eerie lyrics on the morning of the death of the man who sang them. Heartbreaking and gorgeous.

Check ignition and may God’s love be with you.

And So We’re Told This is the Golden Age

Friday, January 1st, 2016

I often have grand ideas about end of year posts, New Year’s posts, the marking of the passage of time, and what it all means. This isn’t one of those posts.

I stayed up until 3 am with friends. I slept late in a bed fit for a queen. I awakened to coffee and bacon, and no hangover. I visited my sister and drank a cup of coffee with our families and dogs. I talked and laughed at a bar and drank a pitcher of beer with my best friend (spoiler: also my sister) while waiting on takeout barbecue, black-eyed peas, and collard greens. It was okay that this year I didn’t make them myself. I met my first stranger of the year, a sculptor named Nate who goes by Hugh, and I hit the jackpot and brought home a brown paper sack full of beer bottle caps for my son’s bottle cap collection.

I stuffed myself on beer, bbq, prosperity, and good luck while watching a movie with most of my favorite people. I am terrible about seeing movies in the theater. I always find other things to do, or to spend my money on. Even when they are on Netflix, it takes a while to get around to seeing them. So, for instance, I saw Grand Budapest Hotel in the theater, but had not gotten around to watching Moonrise Kingdom. Honestly, Lisa, Todd, and I were going to watch Love and Mercy (I was going to invite Kristin to come over and bring Danny Noonan the puppy!), but the sound was messed up, so we settled for Moonrise Kingdom.

Two things: First of all, I love Wes Anderson movies, but I find them completely overwhelming from a sensory and nostalgia standpoint. I find myself constantly distracted by thoughts like “I really need to wear more mustard and khaki,” or “I miss smoking,” or “Holy crap! My parents had that ashtray with the plaid beanbag bottom!” or “That’s totally what Tang packaging looked like when I was a kid!” or “If I were pregnant right now? My kid would totally be getting a Moonrise Kingdom-themed nursery!” Then I have to reign myself back in to even pay attention to what is going on.

Secondly, I had to watch it, because a few folks told us that our son was like Sam in Moonrise Kingdom. We spend a time or two a year yurting with friends. In the fall, we go to Fort Yargo (in Winder, near Athens) and spend a weekend on a peninsula. We have our own canoes. And now that the kids are all older, we slap lifejackets on them, send them off in the canoes, and pour a drink on dry land. This past October, our kids exercised their freedom in the natural world. And my son was a lone trailblazer. He would wake up and before I had finished my coffee, he was out in the canoe, shirtless at times, heading for the beach across the lake, all by himself. He wanted to be in that canoe by himself. He wanted to feel that quiet that you get in the middle of a lake by yourself, and to go somewhere that no one else is, and where none of your people can see you. We hear tell that he beached the canoe and swam by himself. I guess I am a terrible parent for letting my kid canoe out of my sight across an acre or more of lake, and for letting him swim unattended, but I think our kids never have enough time alone exploring nature, so I am willing to chance it. As he headed off numerous times that weekend (I think he may have done 3 or 4 trips out alone on the lake by himself each day), our friends commented that he was “like that kid in Moonrise Kingdom.” I knew enough of Anderson’s movies to know that might be a compliment, but it also meant, well, he’s kind of weird, but then the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. So, I was looking forward to finally seeing the movie to see a glimpse of what others were seeing in my son.

I saw it, too. His curiosity, independent streak, desire to explore, need to be and do things alone, and his innate craving to be in nature. I’m okay with the comparison.

After, Lisa and Dash went home, I decided to write while listening to my new records. Todd bought me a few albums: Elvis Costello’s This Year’s Model; Squeeze’s 45’s and Under; U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky; Prince’s Prince; Simon And Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits; Joni Mitchell’s Hejira. (The Joni Mitchell album deserves a post all it’s own, but I’m working up to that one. Still thinking on it.)

I put on U2, because I’m obvious like that. Rollie sat down next to me with his Sherlock Holmes book, and he let me play with his hair. (He’s 12. I don’t get to play with his hair much longer, so I’m trying to take advantage of times like that.) We talked about U2, and we looked at the album cover, and I showed him photos of Red Rocks online.

I wrote some more while he read at my side. He asked if I would play “Cecilia” and I said “Yes, but we’re listening to the whole album.” His two favorite songs right now are Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecilia” and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” It is not lost on me that this is fucking awesome. I told him how much my mom loves Simon and Garfunkel, and how much I love them, and how we would listen to Simon and Garfunkel on 8-track, and when “The Boxer” came on, I told him that one made me cry, and he said “why?” and I told him to just listen to the album, and one day it would make him cry, too. I didn’t tell him that it is a sad song on its own, and it reminds me of mom, and makes me feel like a little girl, or about my friend telling me that his father loved the song and one of his kids played it for him on his deathbed, but I thought it all, because I think it’s beautiful in the way that only a classic song can be as it infiltrates our memory and thought and intersects with bits of our lives like a puzzle piece.

Todd has since asked if he can watch Black Mirror, so the music is off and the tv is on. The cat is snuggling up next to me on a blanket and the dog is asleep in the chair next to me, and we’ve cleaned up spilled prosecco by turning over the wet cushion to the ugly ripped side.

All of that is pretty much what life is like in general. We turn over the cushion to the more comfortable side. The less wet and dirty side. It still might be a little torn up. We have to choose which side is better.

This was me last New Year’s Day, early on the beach at Cape San Blas.
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And here is me last night, laughing and giving the finger to 2015. (Okay, I’m actually giving the finger to my friend Jason’s parents while I sit on the toilet, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.)

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I know nothing of what this year meant. It may mean nothing. Things I know: I know that whatever I think is normal will change. I know that whatever happens, I will be okay. Whatever happens is what is supposed to happen. I know I need to think less about it all, and that I need to put one foot in front of the other and try to enjoy the small, beautiful moments.

I thought that this wasn’t one of those posts, a post about the year past and the year to come, and what it might all mean. But then again, maybe it is one of those posts.

Mossy Rocks: A Dream

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

I just had this weird moment over coffee, where I remembered seeing a flash of mossy green rocks. Something beautiful in the landscape. It felt like I forgot to do something. I paused and thought about what it was I was forgetting, and I realized it was in my dream last night. I rode in a car, face to the window, as we drove by a myriad of beautiful landscapes. The feeling was one of almost a panicked forgetting that I wanted to go back to see something later.

In my dream, we were on a vacation, and driving around on flat roads, with landscapes by the roadside. In my dream, it felt like the beach, but with these cool, emerald green landscapes that were almost vignettes. I’d pass one, and think, “How beautiful. I need to go home with the family, then come back and photograph that when I have time to by myself.”

And that memory of wet green longing is what I remembered this morning.

I think maybe it is partially my mind trying to balance my obligations and the needs of my family with my desire to spend time on my own and explore things. I also think it is my mind telling me I need to reconnect with nature. I don’t get that anymore now that the lake house is gone. I think that is a gaping hole in my heart and my stomach and my soul, and I need to figure out a way to fill it with something else. And I think the photography facet, the fact that I wanted to photograph these landscapes, is my yearning to create.

There’s no story here, no revelation. I’m just writing it down so that I don’t forget the longing, and to remind myself to find and photograph the mossy rocks in 2016.

Top Five Christmas Songs. Maybe.

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

I have had multiple conversations the last few days about favorite Christmas songs. I generally am not a fan of Christmas music. I think it would be okay if we stuck to a week or so of holiday music, but the fact that we start having it shoved down our throat in public at Thanksgiving just ruins it. It makes me crazy.

And no Christmas song makes me see red more than Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby.” Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” is a very close second. I have a moment every. single. year. when I get “The Little Drummer Boy” stuck in my head all day, and that is usually the point that I’m officially ready for January 1st. I would say January 2nd, just to miss the hangover, but then I’d miss the beans and greens and God knows I will not tempt the fates in such a manner. (And yes, I admit that the Bowie/Crosby version is good, but in general, anything with that many Pa Rum Pum Pum Pums is automatically on the naughty list.)

 

That being said, I do like some Christmas music. I am okay with traditional versions of many songs, and even have sweet memories of singing “Silent Night” at candlelight church service growing up, elbowing my sister and cousins to sit as far away from my dad as possible. (Let’s just say that my, ahem, melodious voice is genetic.) Truly, though, I attribute most of my fondness for Silent Night to the fact that I was so damn excited to get home and go to bed and wake up to find out what Santa brought. The dark and the singing and candles were all just part of that magical eve experience.

I concede to Scott Shankman that anything Sinatra for Christmas is okay. Anything Mannheim Steamroller is most definitely not.

I will admit that seeing Patti Smith doing “Oh Holy Night” just this morning was pretty great. (Thanks, Annie, I hadn’t seen that one.)

But which ones do I like? Well, yes, I’ve given it a good amount of thought, and I came up with a top five of sorts. Everyone I know who likes the same kind of music I like tends to pick The Pogue’s “Fairytale of New York” as a favorite. (One even used part of the lyrics in his Christmas Eve proposal to his wife – a very cool story that I had not heard before, and which I admit made me get a little weepy – way to go, Doug.)

And yes, it is in my top five. Depending on my mood, it might be number one. So, when a number of my friends posted the song on Facebook today, I commented that it was in my top five. One friend (The Negative Split) questioned what could possibly top it?

It turns out that the best Christmas songs for me are secular in nature, are not that common (in that you are not as likely to hear them continuously in Target), and they either have a sense of humor (a la The Pogues) or they are wistful, sad, or melancholy. This is not surprising, as I value those qualities in much of my music year round.

So, without further ado, Nat, here is my top five, in no particular order:

No need to explain this one. It’s fucking brilliant. Absolutely funny, witty, fucking brilliance.

Elvis Presley: “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is probably the most traditional on my list. I love Elvis, grew up listening to him with my Mom, and it keys into my homesick, yearning for childhood magic kind of feelings. As an adult, you know you can never go back again. Half the people you’d go home to are not even alive anymore, and the homeplace is gone. It makes me sad as hell, but with a silver lining; Let’s be honest. Elvis is hot. It’s hard to stay too sad when you think about smokin’ hot Elvis Presley.

The Pretenders: “2000 Miles”

I’m a Pretenders lover anyway (high five to John Sabol for helping me kill hours in homeroom talking about them in high school.) And this song has Chrissie’s beautiful voice, a gorgeous melody, and it seems to vacillate between melancholy beauty and an almost accepting happiness over the Christmas season. Completely in my wheelhouse. It is just gorgeous.

 

Low: “Just Like Christmas”

This song. It’s beautiful. Melodic. Not really about Christmas at all. And yet, all about the feeling of Christmas. I love it. I want to be in Oslo.

 

Joni Mitchell: “River”

So NOT a Christmas song. But probably my favorite. All of Blue kills me. This song kills me. And to me, it’s about Christmas, and longing, and it is probably my favorite.

Update: I am terrible at this. I totally forgot about this one:

So, top six. Maybe bump the Low song. Or maybe Elvis. GAH.

Update #2: I should not write while in the wine. I forgot to ask – What did I get wrong?

A Sloan Kind of Morning

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

SloanI’ve been listening to so much sad and melancholy music this year, but I think I’m pulling out of it. Not that I will ever stop, because I love the sad and melancholy beauties more than any of the others, but I hear variety is also supposed to be good.

A few things have been a catalyst for this . . .  (more…)